Thursday, June 7, 2012

Coke Addiction

Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caused a stir with his proposal to ban sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. There was an immediate backlash, much of the commentary invoking the tried-and-true "nanny state" reference.

Bloomberg's critics hate the idea of the government intervening in their choice of beverage, and I can't say I disagree. I love me some soda. I have drunk copious amounts of Coke over the years.

I've tried to quit any number of times, to no avail. I don't drink as much soda as I used to, but on average, I drink a couple cans of Coke Zero a day. Meg and I have made a concerted effort to keep the girls off soda and fruit juices for as long as possible. Soda and juice are considered the rarest of treats for the girls, but they are pushing for more, noting the hypocrisy of their parents drinking soda while denying it to their children. Crafty lil' buggers.

So no, I do not want the gov't telling me what I can and cannot imbibe.

But, on the other hand, I wouldn't mind paying more. Which is to say, I can see parallels to what happened with cigarettes. As more and more information came to light, and it was determined that cigarettes are truly bad for you, with massive economic costs, the gov't got involved. Cigarette taxes have undoubtedly reduced the number of people smoking, and I think most people would agree that's a good thing.

Could the same situation be unfolding with sugary drinks? More and more information is coming to light about the negative health and economic consequences of so much sugar. I have to wonder. If the gov't knows something is causing widespread health problems, and the cost of dealing with those health problems is straining the economy, shouldn't something be done?

People will never allow the gov't to ban sugary drinks outright, but they may be willing to adopt the cigarette model. Taxes on sugary drinks could reduce the amount of sugar people put into their bodies, without eliminating the choice to do so.

 I'm conflicted on this, but I have a feeling Bloomberg's proposal is just the beginning.

How 'bout you? Are you on board with Bloomberg? Should the gov't do something about all the sugary drinks? Or should the gov't get its damn hands off our soda?


  1. I see your point, but really, then the gov would have to start having fast food places not have dollar menus since those things are super fatty. Then we would have to charge more for some vending machine items.

    I think it could work, but can see a huge out roar coming from it all.

  2. There would be huge backlash, to be sure. What I think it will really come down to is money. If it can be shown that reducing sugar, reducing fat, will help the economy, people may be willing, grudgingly, to try it out. But then again, the libertarian spirit seems to be growing these days, so even if it makes economic sense, people may resist anyway.

  3. Sugar consumption is out of control in this country. I've been a sugar addict all my life (currently on the wagon again, thank you). But I don't see how we can regulate its consumption. I think you're right that things will go the same way they did with cigarettes. A broad spectrum education campaign combined with higher prices is probably be the only way to really draw attention to the very serious health issue.

    We need an informant to blow the whistle on the sugar cartel!!

  4. Oh for crying out loud! If the government truly cared about the health of its taxpayers it would have universal healthcare. Carrying on about sugary drinks is just a red herring and kerfuffle to distract people from what really matters. And that's being able to see a doctor without paying an arm and a leg.
    Sometimes it just makes me crazy what governments go on about when there are real problems in the world.

  5. I agree with Cathy.
    I also think a good idea would be a large public health campaign about healthy eating. Give people information to make informed choices. It's better than restricting rights, Nanny-State style. And if one type of information is clogging the system, then people have to work too hard to find the information on the other side of the argument.
    That's my two cents.

  6. I don't think the government should tell us what to eat or drink, but should keep us informed so we can make good decisions. No one wants to get Type 2 diabetes, I'm sure of that. Sugary drinks may be one cause of this horrendous disease.

  7. What it comes down to is that you cannot save people from themselves. And govt has no business trying to. Sugary drinks may be bad in excess, but it is our right to drink ourselves to death if we so desire. I don't really care about the argument that such behavior costs more with regards to health costs, etc. That's ludicrous. My consumption of pop (soda for those outside of Colorado LOL) is nobody's business and definitely shouldn't be legislated. How about spending a bit more legislative time improving how much money is put into the educational system or something else just as important? Leave my damn soft drinks alone.

  8. I don't know. I try to eat and drink healthy, and I appreciate any assistance I can get. It all seems so confusing.

  9. I loved grape and orange soda as a kid, and the only time we were permitted to drink it was Friday nights--with popcorn and our favorite shows. But I haven't drank soda in years and years and I don't let my kids drink it except for special occasions, or when we've bought it for a party at our house. (But we keep our pantry stocked with carbonated water, to which the kids often add cranberry juice.) Even then, they've learned it's not that great for their body and they often won't order it at a restaurant. Your girls will cut back on it, too, if they listen to your advice and if you cut back on it yourself. Modeling is by far the best defense. But you already know that, Teach.

    I'd be plenty happy if soda (and other junk foods, especially the vending machines!) were outlawed in schools, and I'll bet many educators would be happy as well. While I can't monitor my kids' every move, it would be nice to know that at least when their on their own in school, they can't get the sugary stuff there. For the most part, if kids are faced with decisions like sugar vs. um, just about anything else, they're going to grab the sugar. Why not keep our schools stocked with only the healthy stuff? Along with health and phys ed classes, it sets the stage for healthy habits (especially if those are lacking at home). And I don't believe for one bit that it creates a nanny state. Only big corporate would have you believe that. Besides, all that sweet stuff is sold in the markets, where grown adults may or may not exercise self control. ;)

    Cigarettes: outlaw! Not good even in small doses.

    1. One last note: But yes, I do agree that we shouldn't be legislating soft drinks on in the free market. We're all adults. (But the kids, I worry about.)